One thing that many non-Jews and even Jews don’t know is that the State of Israel stands against Jewish prophecy; to accept it as a legal/legitimate state is to go against Torah teachings. Any Jewish state which is brought into existence prior to the messianic age–by the very nature of its human, natural, mundane provenance – undermines and denies the Torah and contravenes Jewish Law.
But if we listen to the Zionist lobby and the Christian right, i.e., the born again and uninformed crowd, we are led to believe that anyone on the side of Israel stands with God and against anyone who is against God. Such a posture may be theologically unsound from a Christian as well as a Jewish point of view, but it is the only one you can take if you are Donald Trump. Why? Because it automatically starts a fight, and that is his priority, not little things like truth, justice and the welfare of millions of people.
Trump’s propensity to start fights was discussed in this journal when he first made the announcement to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. After doing this to detract attention from the defeat of ISIS and the failure of the Kurdish project he is trying to provoke everyone else in sight, with the enthusiasm of the teenager who’s just discovered an idea others have known about for centuries. He is becoming the Shame of the Nation, and the World for that matter—and this, rather than any positive achievement, will be his legacy when he is finally removed from office.
To add insult to injury, the timing of moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem is also in bad taste. As reported by the LA Times, the official move will occur the day before Nakba Day, the darkest day for the Palestinian people. It is doubtful that those working in the Trump administration did not know this, as this is the day in May when Palestinians observe their “day of catastrophe”. The date merely adds fuel to the fire: the protest in the occupied Gaza Strip and other parts of the imagined Palestinian State is seen as an act of martyrdom by those who have nothing else left to lose, and so the unabated killing and carnage continues.
However the killings, and the decision which has caused them, have potential to have the opposite effect to the one intended. They could conceivably bring about the end of the Jewish State. They have already caused the US to lose all credibility in the region as an honest broker, and without an honest broker supporting it, does the Jewish State itself have credibility?
We have seen successive US and European administrations denounce exclusive states, usually Muslim ones, based around a single religion or ideology. The basis of this condemnation is that such states are intolerant, and make their domestic populations who don’t accept the prevailing view into second-class citizens.
Israel has never made any secret of the fact this applies to itself – oppressing the dispossessed Palestinians was all part of establishing the Jewish homeland. No longer can this be seen as civilized action when Israel is openly backed by a belligerent lunatic who no one in the international community respects. If North Korea was your best friend in the world it would probably be the only one. Trump is now leading the US into the same territory, and the only question is who he drags down with him as he consumes all civilization in his path.
The US gets away with so much in its allied countries because Americans are not very good about caring what happens in faraway places. One tell-as-it-is-American told me, tongue-in-cheek but as a commentary on his countrymen, “Violence happens elsewhere in the world. What’s new? Dead Palestinians mean absolutely about as much as any other dead Muslim. Most here [in the US State of Kentucky], based on some high profile emails, would say ‘good riddance’ to those sand niggers!”
This attitude is typical of Trump supporters, who pride themselves on being ill-informed because they think it makes them focused on the US, as if there is any greater need for that. It is common for such people to blindly support the State of Israel, right or wrong, as if out of some religious duty. They are the same ones who ask why the British Royal Family had to build Windsor Castle under the flight path to Heathrow Airport, and insist that Runnymede, where Magna Carta was signed, is US sovereign territory as it has a JFK memorial there.
Americans also tend to see other countries as the equivalent of the tiny regional states of Germany or Italy, which were eventually incorporated into larger countries. If it isn’t the US, it is a quaint backwater which exists for Americans to go on holiday in. More particularly, it is where Americans used to live before they or their ancestors “graduated” to the New World. US citizens seem incapable of understanding that it is their country, not these little places they find on maps, which is being swept away by an unpleasant and unwelcome tide of history.
This is why Saudi Arabia can do as it pleases as long as it is sanctioned by the United States and the Military Industrial Complex. Yemen’s war is far more complex than a Saudi-Iranian, Sunni-Shia conflict, but few want to know what is really going on, as any regional conflict is automatically seen as a proxy war if the US can claim it is standing up for the whole of decent humanity against the forces of darkness. No one looks too closely at who is on which side because only the US side is distinguished, every other country on earth being all the same really.
The US and Western-initiated war in Syria is not going well, and the US continues to turn a blind eye to human rights violations and the foundation of International Law, an institution the US likes to talk about when it is of convenience. But these little countries must always be fighting because they are not the civilized US, and only US involvement will change anything, if yu subscribe to the long-held US view of itself.
Trump has been no friend to the Middle East Peace Process or trying to reach a two State Solution to the Zionist-Palestinian question because according to his supporters, there is only one side to the argument. Starting further conflict merely plays on their existing prejudices and puts them ahead of fact, or indeed anything else.
As we saw with the Brexit referendum, you can tell people anything as long as you can give them this validation. As in that case, a new group of individuals now feel they are being listened to, and have the upper hand, but are slowly discovering that they have no more real influence than before, and were put in that position to ensure things stay that way.
This applies to the whole State of Israel. It has been told it is a very important country, provided it continues to grease the right palms. But if it can no longer be portrayed as an extension of civilized policy devised elsewhere, to suit other purposes, will it even be able to help itself?
His strategy is NO strategy
As quoted in the Financial Times early last year:
“The Middle East is a mess and that the region’s absurd maelstrom of death, violence, degradation, corruption, extremism, and authoritarianism is made worse by the Donald Trump administration’s apparent absence of any strategy. Trump’s approach to the region seems at first glance to be all sword dancing, orb-gripping, and tough-guy rhetoric that is dangerously lacking in substance.”
Trump is not the whole US, and has a large team of military and civil advisers who will still be in place after his tenure. So we cannot assume that there is no plan at all, and that everything which is going on is just posturing made real, like Trump himself. But this may be what Trump really meant by draining the swamp – he isn’t doing it by getting rid of the corrupt and the warlike, but he is deliberately countermanding them to make a statement, even though it is a ridiculous one.
Trump’s behaviour is embarrassing to the career diplomats, who realise what has been lost in terms of good well and earlier efforts at peaceful settlement of regional issues. But these educated, government-trained and approved diplomats are, by definition, part of the “establishment” Trump supporters claim is rotten, while they are not. If they can be embarrassed, all the better for the US and its values, they think. It only puts the US back on the right course to undermine those who have made it just another country, powerful but having to talk to others who should have become new US colonies long ago.
Assad is still in power in Syria, ad other US interventions have not turned out too well recently. But this is because these corrupt military people, who care about their positions and not America, are in charge. A proper Commander-in-Chief, who will tell it like it is and stop pussyfooting around, will restore US greatness if only these people let him. If that isn’t happening it is just because he can’t fire them all.
Trump and Company are NOT acting out of ideology but their own survival. They are right to object to the corrupt and underhanded way the US behaves in the international arena, but have no intention of stopping it. For domestic consumption, they have to keep it there and use it for their own purposes, to show they are contrary for the sake of it, though the end result is the same.
The US is implicated in many regional crimes, Syria and the gas attacks, the war in Yemen and the forced displacements of civilian populations. Its history with Saudi Arabia is thick with blackmail, dating back to what really transpired on 9/11, and how Saudi was deeply involved in the terrorist attack. On the one hand, these are the actions of the corrupt US establishment Trump claims not be part of, no matter how many times he has hosted them on his yacht. On the other, they are justified because the US is being the tough guy, which that same establishment doesn’t have the guts to openly do.
The US plan, whatever it may say to the contrary, is to be loud and aggressive because that is what Trump supporters expect their country to be if it is as great as it claims. The trouble it causes doing that can’t be down to the US but to these little countries who know no better, because the US is the great superpower who can swat them all like flies. If the US isn’t winning, it is because the US establishment is still betraying America.
Who needs strategy when your only interest is gratifying your own supporters to keep them beholden to those who feed their prejudices for evermore? When everything else is being sacrificed for this, Israel can’t hope that enough people will care if it too becomes yet more collateral damage.
Charity begins at home
What does the Trump policy actually change within the US? By starting fights everywhere he merely increases the profits of arms manufacturers and defence contractors, just as his predecessors did. By creating a regional bonfire, and derailing the Iranian Nuclear Agreement, he merely lights the way to attacking Iran for embarrassing the US in 1979, just like his predecessors did.
The only difference is that previous administrations didn’t do such things so openly. Deals were done behind closed doors, under the cover of deceitful propaganda. Trump is shouting his mouth off to bring this process back to the people. But the people have no greater control over what their government does, and the end result of it is the same.
What Trump has done is drastically change the international position of the US. Whether we like it or not, there are accepted ways of doing things, and the US is not following those rules. It is not breaking those rules by introducing a new level of civilization to the world but by doing the opposite. Consequently even the countries which still believe in the US are finding it hard to support it, as US patronage now means something very different to what it used to.
Trump’s actions can’t be equated with the values of the civilized world. Once, if you had the US behind you it was a seal of respectability. Now it shackles you to a lunatic who is hell bent on destroying the concept of respectability. This affects the claims US allies make for themselves, and also makes them sitting ducks, as fewer and fewer countries are scared of crossing a superpower rapidly becoming a joke, as well as a military liability.
Israel has reflected US strategic will throughout its existence. If the US continues on its present path, it will be the first country to go, surrounded as it is by hostile neighbours just itching for an opportunity to wipe it off the map. Is this what Trump wants? If he can blame Israel for its own demise, yes – and yet another great friend of the US will discover too late just what the terms of that friendship are.
Henry Kamens, columnist, expert on Central Asia and Caucasus, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.